What is MiddCreate?
I am sometimes asked the following questions about Middlebury’s MiddCreate project: What is it? How is it different from our hosted blog environment, sites.middlebury or sites.miis? and Why do this MiddCreate project at Middlebury?
In this post, I’ll tackle the first question: What is it?
MiddCreate offers Middlebury faculty, staff, and students their own subdomain spaces (e.g., collier.middcreate.net) and easy installation of open-source applications such as WordPress, ownCloud, MediaWiki, Drupal, Known, Scalar, and Omeka. MiddCreate users can decide what tools they want to set up on their domains and have full control over their applications. MiddCreate encourages users to take ownership of their digital identity and work, and to develop the digital literacies that will serve them well throughout their academic and professional trajectories.
MiddCreate is one of several “Domain of One’s Own” projects happening at higher education institutions. Domain of One’s Own was started at the University of Mary Washington by Jim Groom and other members of the DTLT (a group now led by the wonderful Jesse Stommel). Jim Groom and Tim Owens went on to start Reclaim Hosting, a provider for Domain of One’s Own infrastructure (and the provider for Middlebury’s MiddCreate project).
The name “Domain of One’s Own” refers to Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own,” which issued a call to give women access to a space and tools of their own to write (Read this great piece about a deeper connection between room/domain of one’s own). Today, the call is to provide faculty, staff, and students in educational environments the places, space, and tools to create and maintain a digital identity. Too many of our interactions online happen in spaces or with tools we do not control—even in educational settings. The digital tools we use for teaching and learning often do not help students and faculty create ongoing representations of their work, manage a digital identity, or make serendipitous digital connections. These tools restrict what we can do, where we can take our work, and how we manage our own intellectual property and self-representation.
Domain of One’s Own provides an alternative approach. Domains initiatives like MiddCreate provide a suite of open source tools to users, including website development tools, project management tools, wikis, groupware, portals, and file management. They also give users backend access to their domain allowing users to become, as Gardner Campbell says, “system administrators for their own lives” if they so choose. (Gardner’s article is REALLY worth your time—go read it! Also check out Gardner’s Envisioning Middlebury talk)
The advantages to doing this are many and we will talk more about them in a future post. The key advantage, I would argue, is the opportunity for students, faculty, and staff is to have the freedom to create something that represents them, their work, in a digital place that they own and control. And they can take it with them when they leave. As Audrey Watters wrote:
And then — contrary to what happens at most schools, where a student’s work exists only inside a learning management system and cannot be accessed once the semester is over — the domain and all its content are the student’s to take with them. It is, after all, their education, their intellectual development, their work.
We talk a lot about digital literacies and digital citizenship in education these days. What does it mean to no longer be a passive consumer of the web, but a creator on the web? What does it mean to be a citizen on and of the web? Who controls the tools I use on the web and what do they do with my data? How can I be a better informed participant in discussions about the future of the web and its role in societies, political arenas, and more?
MiddCreate is intended to help us ask these questions—to give students, faculty, and staff tools to have agency in digital spaces to answer the questions for themselves.
Want more information about MiddCreate, or want to play around? Go here and click Dashboard to log in with your Midd credentials: https://middcreate.net/
At several of the institutions listed above, the domain of one’s own project is offered alongside a hosted blog/wiki environment, like sites.middlebury or sites.miis. We will talk in the next post about how these two services are different and how faculty, staff, and students can consider the best match for their goals.
We will talk about how people are using MiddCreate and other domain of one’s own initiatives in the post “Why MiddCreate?”
Beneath the cobblestones: A domain of one’s own – Audrey Watters
The web we need to give to students – Audrey Watters
A personal cyberinfrastructure – Gardner Campbell
BYU’s bold plan to give students control of their data – Marguerite McNeal
An annotated domain of one’s own – Jeremy Dean
Who’s afraid of domain of one’s own? – Debra Schleef